A Masters to Remember

By John HawkinsApril 11, 2011, 4:55 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. –  Some of golf’s best major championships have featured a down-to-the-wire duel between two superstars – the 1977 British Open and 1999 U.S. Open immediately come to mind. Others are memorable because of their historic value, a market cornered by Tiger Woods in the current era. The 2000 PGA Championship produced an insatiable David vs. Goliath theme, and at the ’03 British, the little man (Ben Curtis) beat an entire valley full of giants.

From the feelgoods (1997 PGA) to the follies (1999 British), every major has an identity, some more appealing than others. The 2011 Masters may not have been the greatest golf tournament ever played, but it had to leave a lasting imprint on those who watched it. Ten players had a realistic chance to win once Rory McIlroy’s final-round struggles turned into a full-blown meltdown, making this one of the most unique Masters Sundays ever.

The constant shuffle atop the leaderboard bordered on chaotic, but the confusion only amplified the suspense. Perhaps the most amazing thing about all the tumult, particularly in the last hour, is that nobody lost the tournament. Charl Schwartzel flat-out won with birdies on each of the final four holes, an outrageous end to a remarkable day full of interesting improbabilities.

McIlroy’s closing 80 was the highest score by a 54-hole leader since Ken Venturi in 1956. It’s hard not to feel bad for the kid, but from this viewpoint, it’s also difficult to think the collapse won’t hurt him down the road. To miss so many short putts on the front nine but still hold a share of the lead on the 10th tee, then respond to the fresh start with one of the worst shots in Masters history, then yank a fairway wood into the maximum-security prison left of the 10th green and walk off with a triple bogey – name one other emerging superstar forced to carry such heavy baggage so early in his career?

Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman made a mess of majors in their day, but both had already won the game’s biggest titles before their train wrecks. McIlroy slept on the lead for three nights, a rarity at any tournament, much less one of this magnitude. Clearly, he didn’t have the mental stamina to finish the job Sunday. At least Sergio usually made it to the bitter end.

Like Garcia, McIlroy is a prodigious talent and still very young, although it’s worth noting that the artist formerly known as El Nino remains majorless. Handling adversity was never one of Sergio’s strengths, of course, and though McIlroy seems far more capable of dealing with this setback, golf is a funny game. Who would have thought Woods would blow a chance to revive his career by missing a handful of putts inside 5 feet?

For everything Tiger did on Sunday’s front nine to rush to the top of the leaderboard, you could make a case that this was his most uncharacteristic loss ever at a major. Throughout his 13-year stretch of dominance, the only short putt of consequence Woods failed to convert came on the 71st hole of the aforementioned ’99 U.S. Open. Two of the misses this past weekend clearly were inside 3 feet – at the 11th hole Saturday and 12th Sunday – but it was the 6-footer curler for eagle at the par-5 15th that severely damaged Woods’ pursuit of a 15th major title.

We saw a bunch of the old Tiger magic, but we also saw a guy who looked like an impostor in the red shirt. We saw a lot of guys play well down the stretch and a winner who played out of his mind, which all adds up to a Masters unlike any we’ve seen before.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.